Expanded Maternity Leave
May 30, 2019
Ira Paulo Pozon, 2018 AsiaGlobal Fellow
Ira Paulo Pozon, 2018 AsiaGlobal Fellow, discusses the various benefits for working mothers in the recently signed Expanded Maternity Leave Law, a measure he contributed to in terms of drafting and passage.
It has been an auspicious year for legislation. Through our work, we drafted, negotiated, and passed into law a number of laws, one of which was the Ease of Doing Business Act I wrote about last year.
This year, another policy we worked on was passed into law. The Expanded Maternity Leave Act (Republic Act No. 11210) was signed by President Duterte on Feb. 20, 2019, and we immediately began work on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR). The IRR was signed on Labor Day.
The passage is considered a victory for women and mothers working in all sectors, and brings to the modern age a number of issues not covered by the former law.
Increased maternity leave
The passage increases maternity leave from the former 60 days (for normal delivery) or 78 days (for caesarean delivery) to 105 days, regardless of method of delivery. In case of miscarriage or emergency termination, 60 days paid leave is granted by the law.
These benefits are above those granted by the Solo Parents’ Welfare Act of 2000 (Republic Act No. 8972), therefore an additional 15 days paid leave are granted if the mother is a solo parent under that law.
The new law also adds the option for an additional 30 days unpaid leave if the mother so chooses, and informs her employer at least 45 days prior to the end of the maternity leave.
It also mandates that the leaves be used for the purpose of the law, to allow the mother to rest, recover, and bond with her newborn child. Hence, the maternity leave must be availed before or after delivery in a continuous and uninterrupted manner, and postnatal leave must be at least 60 days out of the 105 days.
Additionally, the expanded law removes the former cap of four pregnancies, and allows for the maternity benefit to be availed for every instance of pregnancy.
Coverage of women in the informal economy
The law also allows for the benefits to apply to mothers who work in the informal economy, a move that recognizes the numerous self-employed and freelancers in the Philippine workforce. In order to validly avail of the maternity benefit, the worker must register oneself to the Social Security System (SSS) and remitted at least three monthly contributions in the 12 month period before the semester of the childbirth, miscarriage, or emergency termination.
Increased paternity leave
During the Tripartite Executive Meeting in early April, most of the proposed provisions of the IRR were discussed and scrutinized. Points from all relevant sectors were heard and addressed.
One such issue was the novel provision expanding paternity leave, where the mother may allocate as much as seven days of her leave to the father of the child, whether or not they are married. This adds to the existing paternity leave under the Paternity Leave Act of 1996 (Republic Act No. 8187), and fathers may now enjoy up to 14 days paternity leave.
I recall one issue raised by a gentleman who objected to the allocation to the child’s father in certain instances. The gentleman raised the point where the child is the product of an illicit relationship, say an affair where either or both parents are in fact married to other people. He argued that the allocation of seven maternity leave days to the father would be an immoral act borderline condoning the illicit affair that resulted to the child in the first place.
The issue was not fully discussed then, but I did recall a legal principle that may address it. It was the same principle we often discussed with my law students in Insurance Law. Does the law prohibit one party to name as insurance beneficiary his or her paramour when in fact the insured is married to another? The law indeed bars such under the Civil Code by considering the designation of beneficiary as a donation, and therefore Article 739 of the Civil Code would bar donations between persons “guilty of adultery or concubinage at the time of the donation.”
That same legal principle could, in theory and in my own opinion, be applied here where the mother wishes to allocate up to seven maternity leave days to the father of the child, the same could be barred as a void donation under the Civil Code.
The additional seven days leave may also be allocated by the mother to another caregiver, such as a relative.
A warning to employers who wish to violate the provisions of this law, it provides heavy penalties ranging from a fine (P20,000 up to P200,000) and imprisonment (six years and one day to 12 years) or both.
As a final word, it is hoped that this law, if properly implemented, truly results in a closer bond between mother and child, and that through this, the increased productivity of women when they return to their jobs. As what my client and an author of this law, Representative Bernadette Herrera-Dy says, “a woman who has recovered properly and bonded well with her child is all the more motivated to return to work.”
This article first appeared in The Manila Times on May 30, 2019.
The views expressed in the reports featured are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Asia Global Institute’s editorial policy.
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